Scotland Publishes Circular Economy Strategy

circular-economy-scotlandEnvironment Secretary Richard Lochhead has announced the publication of Scotland’s first ever strategy aimed at helping move the country towards a more circular economy. 

Last week the First Minister announced £70m of EU and domestic funding to support a more circular economy, alongside Scotland’s Manufacturing Action Plan.

The Circular Economy Strategy now sets out the Scottish Government’s early priorities for action, in the areas where Scotland is in a position to make rapid progress – such as remanufacturing – and where there is scope to deliver the most significant environmental and economic benefits, including food and bioeconomy, energy, infrastructure and construction.

The new strategy will be delivered in close collaboration with Scotland’s enterprise agencies, SEPA and Zero Waste Scotland.

Food Waste

“Pledging to cut food waste by 33% by 2025 will put Scotland at the forefront of global action to tackle food waste, and will put us on track to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goal of halving food waste by 2030″

Scotland has pledged to cut food waste in Scotland by a third by 2025, which could save businesses and households across the country at least £500m, according to Lochhead.

The Cabinet Secretary made his announement during a visit with EU Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella in Edinburgh to launch the strategy.

He said: “The Scottish Food Waste Reduction Target is the first of its kind in Europe. Pledging to cut food waste by 33% by 2025 will put Scotland at the forefront of global action to tackle food waste, and will put us on track to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goal of halving food waste by 2030.

“Household food waste in Scotland has decreased by an estimated 37,000 tonnes per year – 5.7 per cent overall – since 2009, saving households across the country a staggering £92m a year. That’s a great start but I want to see more done, which is why I have set this target today.”


Construction and demolition waste represents about 50% of all waste in Scotland and influencing the built environment has a significant impact on wider resource efficiency.

Scotland will work with the sector to ensure building designs consider waste reduction in both new build and refurbishment, while also enabling more reuse and recycling at end of life.

This will include supporting SMEs to deliver building projects with the potential to deliver significant impact that can be scaled up and repeated.

It will work to avoid depletion of primary aggregates and timber resources through enhanced recycling of demolition materials.


Scotland is trialling large scale reuse and repair hubs to encourage increased capture rates, to deliver economies of scale for the sector and to create recognised reuse superstores for consumers.

It now proposes to further expand the availability of the “Revolve” standard, for shops who sell second hand goods in Scotland, to include a wider range of reuse organisations, and to develop the standard to provide further confidence for consumers in the products they are purchasing.

It will support local authorities and local reuse organisations to improve reuse collection, storage, retail and communications, including at Household Waste Recycling Centres and through bulky waste services; and through the National Reuse Phoneline, making it easier to donate items.


Encouraging manufacturing firms to adopt circular practices, including remanufacture, is a strong focus for Scotland’s Manufacturing Action Plan.

The plan includes measures to stimulate awareness of opportunities; to address sector-specific opportunities for manufacturing products and services; and to support resulting skills requirements.

It has established the Scottish Institute for Remanufacture as a centre of expertise, only the fourth of its kind in the world, and drawing on the Institute’s expertise, it will aim to influence the EU, standards and certification organisations and others to ensure that remanufactured products are properly recognised as comparable or equivalent to new products.

It is also exploring the barriers and opportunities for greater reuse and remanufacture of medical devices in the NHS.


Because of the impact on quality of recyclate from contamination, Scotland intends to review the specific circumstances in which contamination arises in household and commercial collection systems; in particular mixed collections with glass; food waste collections; and contamination of dry recyclables by food.

This aims to help local authorities get the most from their recyclate in a challenging commodities market and improve the quality of recycling available for reprocessing.


Scotland will move towards making the use of the electronic duty of care “edoc” system mandatory for waste in Scotland and will consider inclusion of transfrontier shipment of waste (particularly in view of the EU Circular Economy package aspirations for electronic data exchange) and hazardous waste.

For the full Strategy CLICK HERE


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  1. Interestingly, Lancashire County Council has told the collecting authorities (including Fylde Borough Council) to instruct householders (forthwith) to refrain from putting food waste in their garden waste bins and to put it in the residual waste bins instead. Lancs CC report that food waste is around 1% of the material collected for AD/composting treatment and they can’t justify the higher costs of treating the mixed stream given the value of the end product.
    Has Mr Lochhead factored in the additional fuel etc costs (including the carbon footprint) of securing a ‘5.7%’ reduction in food waste over the last seven years?
    I’d have been happier to see some practical proposals for improving the stalled increase in recycling rates year on year. Reinstating the ring-fencing for recycling funds (that his Government pulled down eight years ago) would be a start. Several councils are now using these funds for other purposes.

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